French national road race and time trial champion Audrey Cordon-Ragot, who raced in the first edition of the revamped Tour de France Femmes in July, suffered a stroke last weekend.
The 32-year-old Trek-Segafredo rider revealed the news in a social media post today, writing that she requires an operation to address the heart condition behind last Sunday’s stroke – which occurred just a week after she finished second overall and won a stage of the Simac Ladies Tour in the Netherlands.
Earlier this week Cordon-Ragot dropped out of France’s elite women’s squad for the upcoming UCI road world championships simply citing medical reasons, but she has now confirmed that she was diagnosed after an MRI scan confirmed the fears of the French team’s medical staff.
La vie vous réserve toujours des surprises et cette semaine plus que jamais, j’ai appris qu’elle est bien plus importante que tout le reste. pic.twitter.com/UDiTlfujlK
— Audrey CORDON-RAGOT (@CordonRagot) September 17, 2022
“Life always has surprises in store for you and this week more than ever, I learned that it is far more important than anything else,” she posted on Instagram and Twitter.
“My non-presence at the next world championships, which many people claimed was down to a whim, fear of losing, lack of respect for the French team... and so on, is due to a stroke, of which I was a victim last Sunday.
“Not detected right away, I was lucky (yes, I say lucky) to be surrounded by medical staff (thank you Gwenaëlle Madouas, Maryline Salvetat and Mathieu Le Strat) who strongly advised me to carry out an MRI which surely saved my life.”
She continued: “Difficult to explain how I feel, I am exhausted, drained, sad, but at the same time so grateful and happy to have been able to return home to my loved ones.
“My season is therefore over, as you can guess (some will say that I am a crier and a sissy, for all these people refrain from commenting!).
“I will observe a period of rest and undergo an operation to resolve the cardiac problem at the origin of my accident.
“The moral of the story is that I understood how much I loved my family, my life, more than anything and that I would not let anything or anyone take away the privilege of enjoying it 200 percent.
“Thank you to all the people who asked about me, who surrounded me: my family, my friends, the French Cycling Federation, my team and the nursing staff of the Centre Hospitalier du Centre Bretagne.”
The 32-year-old then signed off with a quote from French philanthropist Anne Barratin: “Vigoureusement aimer, c’est vigoureusement vivre” (To love vigorously is to live vigorously’).
Cordon-Ragot racing across the gravel in the French national colours at the 2022 Tour de France Femmes (Zac Williams/SWpix.com)
Before last weekend’s health scare, 2022 was arguably the most successful season of Cordon-Ragot’s 15-year professional career. In June, she won her sixth French time trial title and second national road race title, which saw her wear the famous Tricolore jersey at the following month’s inaugural Tour de France Femmes.
In early August, she beat British rider Pfeiffer Georgi to win the Postnord Vårgårda WestSweden, before taking the time trial stage and finishing second overall behind Lorena Wiebes at the Simac Ladies Tour two weeks ago.
Stokes are thankfully rare among professional cyclists but have happened in the past. In 2014, Yerlan Pernebekov, a former Asian junior road champion and member of Astana’s UCI Continental development squad, died after suffering a stroke at the age of 19.
Pernebekov, who was attending the Continental team’s training camp in Ecuador, began suffering from a headache and was taken to hospital straight away.
He was later diagnosed to have suffered a stroke as a result of a burst blood vessel, with medical staff placing him in an induced coma.
“Unfortunately and in spite of every effort by doctors and medical staff, Yerlan could not be saved,” Astana said at the time.
Ryan joined road.cc as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.